Saturday, 14 August 2010

Mr Stick – My New Mahl Stick

About half way through my first ever oil painting I realised that I needed a mahl stick… Of course I couldn’t remember what it was called at the time but I knew what it looked like and that was enough. I decided that instead of buying one I would simply make one and I’d like to share how I went about it.

Firstly I should mention for those who’ve never heard of a Mahl stick what it’s for. A mahl stick is used to steady your hand when you are working on a small detailed area of a painting or if you are working over wet paint. You place the padded end of the stick against the edge of the canvas while holding the other end in your left hand, you are then free to rest your right hand on the stick giving you far greater control of your movements. (This is of course reversed if you paint with your left hand)

In order to make your mahl stick you will need…

A new kitchen sponge (The kind you use to do the washing up)
Two pieces of relatively thick but soft fabric about the size of a ladies hankie
A elastic band or hair band
A piece of ribbon
A piece of dowel about the length of your arm and 1cm in diameter (I used a broken arrow shaft)
A pair of scissors
About 10 minutes in which you have nothing better to do

First cut your kitchen sponge into a square.
Lay your first piece of fabric on the floor then place the sponge (scour side up) in the centre and place your dowel vertically in its centre. Pull the fabric tightly over the sponge and fix in place using an elastic band. Trim the fabric to about an inch away from the band.
You should now have what looks like a stick with a small squidgy ball at the end.
Take the second piece of fabric and secure it tightly over the soft end using the ribbon or another elastic band. Trim the second piece of fabric about an inch from the ribbon. This second piece of fabric can easily be changed if it gets dirty.

And there you have it your very own home made mahl stick, all that’s left to do is give it a slightly more imaginative name than Mr Stick!

1 comment:

  1. I start my very first oil painting class tonight. I will keep this in mind.